Zach Wilson
The Record photo

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson will be starting a second straight game on Thursday night. With Mike White nursing a rib injury, Wilson will look to win a crucial matchup for Gang Green. The scrappy Jaguars are coming to town and the Jets are on a three-game losing streak, so New York desperately needs a victory to remain in the AFC Playoff race.

But there’s more at stake than just the Jets’ postseason chances. This game is also a major opportunity for Wilson, whose performance against Jacksonville could decide his Jets future.

If Wilson impresses. Then he remains the starting quarterback. Simple as that.

The Jets need any reason to justify drafting Wilson at No. 2 overall in 2021. A big game for Wilson and a victory for the Jets would lead to the young quarterback returning to the starting lineup for the final two games of the regular season and potentially the playoffs.

How Wilson and the Jets fare in the final two weeks and whether they even make the postseason is yet to be revealed. But if Wilson can win this primetime matchup and show why he was drafted second overall, he’ll keep earning shots as the starter.

A great performance would also do wonders for Wilson’s confidence, which has surely taken hits following multiple poor performances this season.

If he struggles. There’s a chance his Jets tenure is ruined.

If Wilson blows yet another opportunity to prove he’s the franchise’s future, the coaching staff will possibly have seen enough.

White would then return to the starting lineup (assuming he’s healthy for the New Year’s Day matchup against Seattle) and Wilson would return to the bench.

And after that, who knows? If a healthy White shows he’s the better quarterback over the last few weeks of the year and into the playoffs, the Jets could roll with him next season and trade Wilson in the offseason. With two years remaining on the rookie contract, a fifth-year option on top of that, and various quarterback-needy teams around the NFL, the Jets would find trade suitors.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.